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Large loss of CO2 in winter observed across pan-arctic permafrost region

October 14, 2019

Recent warming in the Arctic, which has been amplified during the winter1,2,3, greatly enhances microbial decomposition of soil organic matter and subsequent release of carbon dioxide (CO2)4. However, the amount of CO2 released in winter is not known and has not been well represented by ecosystem models or empirically based estimates5,6. Here we synthesize regional in situ observations of CO2 flux from Arctic and boreal soils to assess current and future winter carbon losses from the northern permafrost domain. We estimate a contemporary loss of 1,662 TgC per year from the permafrost region during the winter season (October–April). This loss is greater than the average growing season carbon uptake for this region estimated from process models (−1,032 TgC per year). Extending model predictions to warmer conditions up to 2100 indicates that winter CO2 emissions will increase 17% under a moderate mitigation scenario—Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5—and 41% under business-as-usual emissions scenario—Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5. Our results provide a baseline for winter CO2 emissions from northern terrestrial regions and indicate that enhanced soil CO2 loss due to winter warming may offset growing season carbon uptake under future climatic conditions.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Large loss of CO2 in winter observed across pan-arctic permafrost region
DOI 10.1038/s41558-019-0592-8
Authors Susan M Natali, Jennifer D. Watts, Stefano Potter, Brendan M. Rogers, Sarah M. Ludwig, Anne-Katrin Selbmann, Patrick F. Sullivan, Benjamin W. Abbott, Kyle A. Arndt, Leah Birch, Mats P. Bjorkman, Anthony Bloom, Gerardo Celis, Torben R. Christiensen, Casper T. Christiansen, Roisin Commane, Elisabeth J. Cooper, Patrick Crill, Claudia Czimczik, Sergey Davydov, Jinyang Du, Jocelyn E. Egan, Bo Elberling, Eugenie S. Euskirchen, Thomas Friborg, Helene Genet, Mathias Gockede, Jordan P. Goodrich, Paul Grogan, Manuel Helbig, Elchin E. Jafarov, Julie Jastrow, Aram A.M. Kalhori, Yongwon Kim, John S Kimball, Lars Kutzbach, Mark J. Lara, Klaus S. Larsen, Michael M Loranty, Magnus Lund, Massimo Lupascu, Nima Madani, Avni Malhorta, Jack McFarland, David A. McGuire, Anders Michelson, Christina Minions, Walter C. Oechel, David Olefeldt, Frans-Jan Parmentier, Norbert Pirk, Benjamin Poulter, William L. Quinton, Fereidoun Rezanezhad, David Risk, Torsten Sachs, Kevin Schaefer, Neils M. Schmidt, Edward A. Schuur, Philipp R. Semenchuk, Gaius Shaver, Oliver Sonnentag, Gregory Starr, Claire C. Treat, Mark P. Waldrop, Yihui Wang, Jeffrey Welker, Christian Wille, Xiaofeng Xu, Zhen Zhang, Qianlai Zhuang, Donatella Zona
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Nature Climate Change
Index ID 70215287
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center; Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center